Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Silence = Consent = Murder

"This is not about religion."

That must certainly come as a relief to those of you who consider yourselves religious but managed to still cast a ballot, 'despite serious reservations' in support of the person elected 45th President of the United States. You do not need to reassure me that 'he doesn't reflect my beliefs,' not because I don't believe you (I don't, but who cares?) but because by voting for him in November you revealed yourself to have none.

Now you must live with the consequences of that decision (because you have no choice). Actually, we all have to live with your choice (that's the way it works; I voted twice for a Kenyan Marxist who singlehandedly averted a Second Great Depression while you picked a narcissistic, bellicose bully) but you cannot pretend to be ignorant as to where his piecemeal slippery slope is leading.

I don't think I have to spell it out, someone else did a long time ago at a moment many wanted to believe would, and could never, ever, come again.

And now here we are.

I'd hate for us to go through all eternity knowing we could have stopped the second showing of the horror movie but simply chose not to because, well just because.....

It's not that hard to remember: Never Again means never again for anyone. Always.
-bill kenny

Monday, January 30, 2017

All You Need Is Lunch

I'm getting ready to close some doors to rooms in my life I don't need to visit anymore, so I have moments where I get a little moist around the eyes thinking about what once was, even if at that particular moment in time when whatever it was that was present and not past tense, I didn't feel that especially weepy. Memories are funny that way and many of mine are just hilarious I guess.

Yesterday someone posted this picture that eventually turned up in my Facebook Newsfeed (as utterly oxymoronic as that sounds) and I remembered the instant, admittedly not as a child as small as the one pictured but from my vantage point now, still incredibly terribly young, when I first heard The Beatles.

(Thank you, Colin Smith)
I smiled when I saw the photo and am still smiling at the idea of the uncounted number of people I shall never know, in rooms down hallways in which I'll never walk, who have not yet but shall soon enough Meet the Beatles.  

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Older I Get

Found this from a very time long ago and didn't realize I was once actually capable of thought, much less this type or amount. I'm just gonna sit here quietly for a moment. Talk among yourselves.

I'm not sure our schools teach English grammar and vocabulary the way they did when I was a slip of a lad growing up in America before Edison invented the light bulb and Al Gore the Internet.

We learned about Walt Whitman, William Shakespeare and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (and the more mature of us knew of Henry Miller and James Joyce), but they were all the stuff of English Literature, and had nothing to do with diagramming a sentence or identifying the parts of speech that comprised a sentence. 

Sentences that asked a question were always interrogatory; statements could also be declamatory and/or expository and, of course, there were exclamatory remarks. Each in its place and in its moment. 

There were nouns, verbs, predicates and objects surrounded by adjectives and adverbs, free-range propositions and grazing gerunds, predatory participles (my old friend, the future pluperfect back when I had more future than regrets) and infinitives, split and otherwise. 

Sister Mary Jean had a diagram question on every English test every Friday and it never had any thing to do with Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, James Joyce's Dubliners or (Lord, literally, forbid) Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer.

When we left one of the least charitable of the Sisters of Charity's eighth grade, we had the souls of first shift torque-wrench turners at the Ford Mahwah assembly plant in terms of lyricism, but we could diagram Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in less than two minutes (or three less than it took Abe to deliver it ) while two fourth-period miscreants, sentenced, as penance, to accomplish the same for the remarks delivered by Lincoln's predecessor to the podium, died along the way. 

And if you're keeping track, exactly ten, count 'em! ten, first person plural pronouns appeared and zero singular--by comparison, go here, and grab at random. Sister Mary Jean was right-when we don't have to diagram them, our sentences are filled with worthless and meaningless words for everyone, but most especially and tragically for ourselves.

"Of Life immense in passion pulse and power, 
Cheerful, for freest action form'd under the laws divine 
The Modern Man, I sing." 
-bill kenny

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Bellyful Rulz!

Now I know what those who opposed Barack Obama's presidency (and his existence as well, now that I think about it) were undergoing for the last eight years. I now feel your pain. That said, can we stop now? If you voted for the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in our nation's capital, this is all on you. And please forgive my hoping we survive this, because I'm not sure we can or shall.

President #45 used the Lincoln Bible to take the oath of office without (seemingly) any appreciation of how keen Ole Honest's sense of humor actually was. Here's an example:

I'm thinking it might have been better had he kept his day job (okay, not all the way to the end), but I will concede it's sort of funny if you have a dog and funnier still if you are a dog. Actually, Abe may have been providing us with an example of bellyfeel, rather than bad stand-up.

Meanwhile with all the very real issues of national security and myriad of global challenges facing us, aside from Alec Baldwin and the cast of Hamilton the Musical, our nation's Chief Executive is still angry about losing the popular vote in November (with a plurality of a bit more than 77,000 votes in three separate states, he assured himself a victory in the Electoral College which is all that matters, though not to him, I guess).

We really are going through the looking glass and I think that might be more than a dab of red ('not aquamarine') paint on Kellyann Conway's lips. It's interesting how alternative facts smell a great deal like something else. Speaking of a familiar aroma, I think we all know what it is on Sean the Spice Boy's lips. And he may have believed his previous tangle with Dippin' Dots had steeled him for his current task.

Sorry, not when up against Donald Duckspeak and his manic math. Our nation's Haircut-In-Chief saw two to three times more people at the inauguration than anyone else did, and, this is my theory only, perhaps it was those very same people who illegally voted (?).

And as I discovered in the online site of my hometown newspaper, who are you gonna believe? Some guy in a blog, a President in the tweetosphere, talking about three to five million (maybe more and maybe less), or your own eyes? You might want to goodthink that answer before responding.
-bill kenny    

Friday, January 27, 2017

קיין איין קאַפּ פון רעגן

I was hoping to NOT have to dust off some older thoughts (back when I still had some) but I'm thinking that was a forlorn hope. Here goes. Today as you may have seen if you look at news just about anywhere, is the seventy-second anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. which serves as the cornerstone for today's observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

As a child when my mother's mother told stories of "The War" her generation had fought, she rarely mentioned the death camps-perhaps because we were of Irish ancestry and Roman Catholic religion, perhaps for reasons she never had the time or the opportunity to explain. Europe was far away and there's too often a tendency to suggest it's good to let the past remain the past. Not this time.

I'm her age now and the cautionary tale that the Ha-Shoah should have been does not seem to be a lesson we on the planet have fully learned. There is mindless murder every day in every corner of the globe because of the color of skin, the choice of a God, the shape of an eyelid, always some variation of the fear of The Other.

We are NOT much better here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, especially just months after a Presidential campaign whose alternative facts are such that many of us could shower for the next four years and still never feel clean as we impersonalized and dehumanized those with whom we are/were in disagreement philosophically and politically, rendering them abstractions and making them easier to hate and then hating them deeply and completely. Et tu, Omnis?

As we keep Slouching towards Bethlehem we've continued our journey along the road to perdition and that, I fear, means we will persist in writing off one another and the damages we do to ourselves as part of the overhead of being on the planet. As if a person's lifetime is worth no more than an arched eyebrow or a shrugged shoulder.

I haven't yet purchased or read this book but I shall because it's very important, at least to me, that someone bear witness to who we were and how easily the danger and horror of all of that did happen and can happen again. Growing faint in the face of evil is to do nothing and doing nothing cannot be allowed especially when each of us, world wide, knows that silence is consent and the first chapter in the horror story.

About a minute and a half into this trailer, Keri Lynn (spelling?) explains why she became involved in the Paper Clips Project. I imagine she's close to graduating high school by now and her place has been taken by other bright and shiny young people who, if we're lucky, will not need to build rafts to save us from the flood of our own hatred but, instead, bridges that allow connections despite our differences.
-bill kenny

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Week's March into the Swamp

If you were someone who after stopping into this space last Friday, the 20th, sent me a note telling me you hoped I 'had gotten all that' out of my system, I'm still not sure what 'all that' you're talking about and since I have gone to all the trouble to continue the discussion, I guess the answer is nope.

With everything we as a nation should be turning our lonely eyes to you, Mr. President, to lead us on, what does the Trumpster go on about? The lyin' media and their misrepresentation of the size of the audience of attendees and adulators who were at his inauguration a week ago. Size matters more than I might have ever thought.

What a sad man (barely, in light of his temperament and his self-absorption) we have chosen, perhaps with a little help from our Volga Boatmen comrades in Moscow, to lead us (feels weird to type that and impossible to believe it; the leading part, I mean).

Last Friday I watched the curtain go up on a four-year long run of a "post-apocalyptic dystopian nightmare" brought to us by a man who 'says what he thinks' but seems to feel no obligation at all to ever think before he says anything. Those are NOT my words, but I enthusiastically endorse them.

The deeper into the swamp we trudge, the harder it will become to separate good from evil, lie from fact and foe from friend. In the logic of the age ushered in less than a week ago, it does not mean things are going from bad to worse but, rather, they are now doubleplusgood. Your attention please.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Second Stone

One of the things I thought about when I was resettling in New England was Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose novel, The Scarlet Letter, had been mandatory high school summer reading. If I were being honest and not working from alternative facts, I would acknowledge my only real memory of it was how relentlessly cheerless it was.

I recall Dr. George the teacher who had assigned Young Goodman Brown to us as a short story during the semester, telling the class he felt the novel was an accurate reflection of New England: rough over smooth, having craggy and flinty edges with people who kept to themselves and expected others to do the same. (Though, I would argue today, most certainly NOT Arthur Dimmesdale.)

I also flashed on H.L. Mencken's attempted aphorism, "Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." If you didn't know Hawthorne had been born in Salem, Massachusetts (yes, that Salem) would you have been surprised to find it out? I didn't think so. It's that observation. mixed with more than a dash of Hawthorne that Norwich politics so often reminds me of.

Out walking early Sunday afternoon, thinking about writing these words (and the idea that I think about it at all may be a bigger surprise to you than Nat's hometown) it was for me a short distance from public shaming combined with unhappiness at someone else's success that brought me back to "Derbygate" a term I hope either Ryan Blessing or The Bulletin had the presence of mind to register since I'm pretty sure there will be bumper stickers and tee-shirts and perhaps lunchboxes coming from all of it.

I ran a quick Google search (is there any other kind?) on Derbygate and the results are impressive. But it's not the reporting of the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative, CMEEC, and its strategic annual trips to the Kentucky Derby I'm thinking about so much as the comments, sometimes on the newspaper website and other times on (mostly Facebook) social media postings that disquiet me.

I don't mean the anger from almost the moment the feces intersected with the ventilator-I get that. And based on some of the comments attributed to our Mayor and the NPU General Director at last Thursday's Ethics Commission hearing, so, too, do they. Seemingly at least a day late and perhaps more than a dollar short....or is 'dollar' now a trigger word?

And don't think I'm being cavalier, I'm not by any means. I, too, am angry (not at imagined costs to me as a ratepayer) but more than that, I'm disappointed.

My point (despite the hat, still visible I fear) as I regard the righteous outrage if not borderline bloodthirstiness of some (mostly anonymous) commentators is tempered by the Bulletin's online poll (by its own admission, not close to scientific) of 27 October 2016 which asked "If CMEEC had invited you on the Kentucky Derby trip, would you have gone?" There were only 136 responses out of which 43% said "yes," and 46% said "no." Most telling (to me at least) was only 10% said, "I'd have to think about it."

Borrowing from my former neighbor, Reverend Cal Lord and quoting John 8:7, 'Let any one of you without sin throw the first stone," I'm glad our cobblestone streets were paved over long ago because otherwise too many of us would be risking broken fingernails these days.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Bit More Weight to Carry

Barrett Strong's version of Money caught the lads' ears back in the day rummaging through the record bins at North End Music Stores on Great Charlotte Street in Liverpool, and the rest as they always say is history. Except, more than a half-century on, when we speak of The Beatles more often than not when we do, we're talking, really talking, about money.

Sir Paul McCartney is making very sure that the songs we all grew up listening to and forever associated with The Fab Four will also forever be making money for the composers (and/or estates) as opposed to continuing to enrich the publishers who bought the rights from those who bought the rights from the folks who originally held the rights as partners with Lennon and McCartney until the going got a little rough and they bailed. Cowardice and avarice should be their own rewards. Talk about the original Long and Winding Road.

I know the US Supreme Court upset many people, myself included, by ruling that corporations are people (too?), but reading the quote in their press release, Sony does sound like they have hurt feelings. A kind of a 'Gee, Willikers! We were gonna give those songs back. Honest! Sir Paul didn't have to go and tell his mom (lawyer actually) and everything! Jeepers!'

Of course, Sir Macca has some experience with barristers and greenmail having had a ringside seat during The Greatest Show on Earth (sort of) and the break-up of The Beatles. It sounds to me like he's not interested in an encore.
-bill kenny

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Little March in January

The joke back in the days of a captive Eastern Europe, as explained to those of us who lived in Western Europe was that "a refugee is someone who votes with their feet." I thought about that on Saturday watching the "lyin' media" report on the Woman's March on America.

I think we'll argue and discuss from now until forever what any of Saturday's events, not just across America but around the world actually mean and still not get anywhere because, I suspect, they mean something different and personal to every person who participated.

But as we're learning painfully fast with the new crowd in charge of Dodge City, size matters far more than anything else to include accuracy or truth. But that's okay. I get that a picture is worth a thousand words, but there's something comforting about math and numbers. And speaking of the latter here's a non-visual representation of Saturday's scale and scope.

Sure seems like quite the turn-out. #Manypeoplearesaying bigly.
-bill kenny

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Waiting for National Geographic to Weigh In

I grew up on and with baseball. One summer and he passed on three plus decades ago so I feel safe sharing this anecdote now, I hid a copy of a paperback "Major League Stars of 1959" inside my Dad-assigned reading, in addition to the school's summer list, of Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. I am reasonably sure I got away with it.

The more I think about the less sure I am that I ever even finished Ivanhoe. Perhaps that's why I make it a point every Sunday morning to read Prince Valiant in the comics. Wikipedia's thumbnail on the comic lists "occupation: crown prince" (I kid you not).

I should add that it was no longer 1959 when I smuggled the paperback into the castle's keep, so to speak, but I didn't have a more current reference on baseball that was small enough to fit inside that tome and I ate, drank, and slept the game, a pathetic example of how far desire will take you but how much further you need talent in order to go the rest of the journey. If wanting were all that was necessary, I'd have been on a baseball card; instead, I chewed a lot of bubble gum.

I have yet to get to Cooperstown. As a visitor, I mean. It's the only way I'll ever make it, no matter how many years I kept my baseball glove, wrapped in soccer shin-guard rubber bands, with a ball in the pocket, oozing neatsfoot oil, in the mousetrap on the back of my Royce Union 26" bicycle. Some loves are always unrequited.

Maybe that's why I always cheer up when, at just about the midway point between the start of winter's gray skies and pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training, the 2017 Hall of Fame Selections are announced. And this year's class, I think, is superlative.

I hate discussing the "steroid era" of baseball, not so much because it was disrespectful to and hateful of the millions of fans who rooted for players who were, or alleged to be, jacked but because I'm not sure the past tense of the verb about all of it, is the correct one.

And it's that whiff of continuing uncertainty surrounding so many very talented men who may never be selected and who should and could have been considered, which saddens me. That said, again congratulations and I'm looking forward to the induction ceremony being televised.

As a Yankees' fan whose heart was bruised when he and Randy Johnson between them winning the requisite four of seven games, led the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 2001 World Series Championship, and then was broken when he led the Boston Red Sox in breaking the Curse of the Bambino in 2004, I've always been ambivalent about Curt Schilling.

I see him as a great pitcher and a badly flawed human being (and I am being very kind) who is now championed by (I guess) the Sports Illustrated of the American Waffen SS, Breitbart who don't seem to realize HOF voter sentiment for Curt has been ebbing for some time (the reader comments on the Breitbart story are stunning).

This time around, he's the victim because he supported Donald Trump (not because of the 'funny' "Lynch Journalists" T-shirt or for his homophobia?). Yeah, maybe but then I think he does protest a bit too much at how little getting into the Hall really means to him, but then again I am a Yankees fan and what else should and could he say?

If it's of any solace, #38, by all accounts Ty Cobb was an a$$hole, and he got in, so just-waitamint, I think I lost track of my concluding point! Oh yeah, Nyahh!
-bill kenny

Friday, January 20, 2017

359.1 Miles (definitely NOT Davis)

If you stopped by today looking for some cheery and cheerfully inspirational words as we inaugurate the 45th President of the United States about how we should roll up our sleeves and all move forward together, you will need to look elsewhere. Do it now, don't dally. What follows may not be what you were seeking. Life is funny that way.  

Big(ly) doings today in our nation's capital, appropriately enough at the Capitol Building as the Presidency of the United States, in a miracle of democracy and peaceful transition of power, passes from Barack H. Obama to Donald J Trump.

If you've visited this space at almost any moment for the last nearing a decade or so, you are more than aware that the President-Elect and I are like this (and you can guess which of those two fingers I regard him as being). It's unrequited animus as he would say "who?" in response to my name. That's actually more than fair and #ThanksDonald.

You are free to think me as an ill-mannered cur with my lack of respect for the man, but I would argue it's just my war on political correctness as I put a normal-sized finger of my regular-sized hand on the Cosmic Scale to counter-balance someone who left no one behind in a hateful campaign of conceit, contempt, injury and insult in pursuit of the office of President.

I am somewhat surprised the inauguration wasn't conducted exclusively on Twitter. I'm not a mathlete but the amount of characters permitted in a single tweet is probably double or more the total amount found in the entirety of his Cabinet nominees. Too harsh? Gee, I'm sorry; no, actually I'm not. 

If I hold my breath waiting on those long-promised income tax returns and medical records of the new Birther-in-Chief, I'd be as blue as his suit (you thought I was gonna take a shot at Nugent's anatomy? I just did. And all the campaign chatter was about small hands? Speaking of which...).

The party of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt thinks we should now unite behind a man who accepts as fact the meandering mutterings of Alex Jones and his ilk and who has created a parallel universe in which situational ethics is the New Normal and Truth and Honesty are always lowercase nouns and relative concepts. I think I'll take a pass on all of that. 

For the sake of comity and not without some comedic value, I will say 'thank you for the kindness of that offer.' It's not you, it's me. I'm not a poor loser but I will concede nothing to this man, ever. And as you've probably guessed, I'm gonna stay this way for a helluva long time. 

Speaking of hell, @realDonaldTrump, I already have my ice skates on and despite your insistence that climate change is a Chinese hoax, all I can say is puck you.
-bill kenny  

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Break in the Battle

I spend an inordinate amount of time wading through electronic correspondence most of which, in some form or other, I requested (not all of it, despite what some of the telemarketers want me to believe when challenged but a not inconsiderable amount of it is self-inflicted) but no longer read.

I've concluded I (and you, too) am actually responsible for the National Security Agency, NSA, bringing me the Second Coming of the Red Scare because I never, ever, read any of the those End User License Agreements, EULA, that come with every computer program and smartphone applications and to which the developer insists I agree before allowing its use.

C'mon, 'fess up; neither do you. I just scroll down and click the 'agree' box and go about my business. The EULA may well demand one or more of my children as indentured servants, or that I surrender my Klondike Bar as a condition to which I blithely agree.

I have no way of knowing as I NEVER read the small print and that, my friend, might have been just the opening through which the NSA came storm (troopering) as it trampled on my rights in order to protect them. It may take a village to raise a child, Hillary, but sometimes we have to destroy the village to save it. Sign here.

Meanwhile, I dig out an e-mail in-box which employs powerful and effective spam filters so all the hinky and many of the kinky solicitations have already been weeded out. Okay, every once in awhile, one of them, usually involving a palomino pygmy pony, rubber sheets, and cooking oil shows up but after a couple of days (and it depends on the number of photos, I admit) I manage to delete that as well.

The other day, I just had enough of skimming stuff I'd asked to be sent for reasons that only God and I once knew and now only one of the two of us (perhaps) still does and decided to stop the e-madness. There's no personal animus involved in this, as it's all automated. The sent email will have a line at the bottom on 'how to unsubscribe' which is good for the sender and even better for me.

I don't remember which one of the legion of senders whose unsubscribe link I clicked but I smiled as I read this confirmation of the termination of our (non) relationship: "You have been removed from the Daily Digest mailing list. You will receive one last email, and maybe a creepy voicemail because we know we can work this out."

Gotta tell ya, I was tempted to rejoin just for the unsubscribe part of the drill all over again, proving sometimes in the "It's not you, it's me" dance of a thousand denials, no matter what I say, it is you. Really, you.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Otis Library is a Mirror and a Window

Andrew Carnegie, who knew a thing or two about a thing or two, and whose Gospel of Wealth helped create and advance the idea of philanthropy in the United States, once noted "a library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in a desert."

With other weather and our three rivers, Norwich will never be confused with a desert, but I was thinking about how much the downtown Norwich we fret about so (too?) often in print and at public meetings, so frequently looks to the Otis Library on Main Street the way the fingers of our hands hand look to the thumb.

There are many brave beginnings across and throughout Chelsea, but whenever I'm in/near Franklin Square, I've lost track of all the places to eat that have sprouted up around Otis, like flowers after a spring rain. Talk about spoiled for choice, and where Epicure and Commerce intersect. The restaurants are there because that's where the ebb and flow of foot traffic, like me on Saturday, is.

And I was at the Otis Library on Saturday, to enjoy the traveling version of The Smithsonian's Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean to Be Human? exhibit upstairs in the community room through February 3. I wasn't alone, not by any means. A nice flow of folks, by themselves, with a friend or, in some instances, small children made their way around the room trying to take it all in and not so coincidentally helping me prove my previously offered point about attracting traffic.

And since we're talking about an exhibit that traces millions of years of human development to get us to where we are now, let me detour to before I and my family arrived here a quarter of a century ago when, I've been told, Walter Way, then as now active in city politics and community development, would tell anyone who would listen, and many who chose not to, that an alliance with an organization like the Smithsonian to bring to town just this kind of exhibit would do wonders for the region and the city's economic growth. He was right then and he's right now.

It would seem, and I say this after watching many of those coming out of Otis who headed to the newly-opened Asian restaurant on the corner across from the Buckingham Memorial and others who sought out Spanish and Chinese cuisine closer to Franklin Square that visitors to cultural events in the nearly-always underfunded-by-the-city library work up the same kind of appetites that folks who go to sporting events and vacation parks do. Who'd have thunk it?

I shouldn't be surprised. As I learned at the exhibit, no matter who we are or where we're from we share over 99% of our DNA with the person standing beside us examining those models of human skulls as you enter the exhibit. As for that double digit sharing of the same DNA with a banana, yes a banana, not you know why I wear a ball cap when I go to the produce section in the grocery. As well as a whole new appreciation for the origins of our President-Elect, somewhere in the snack aisle, near the Frito-Lay display.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Farewell to Wild Billy's Circus Story

It was everywhere and a part of every child's growing up years. And then when we were grown, we came with our children as the pretext for an encore helping of the magic that was The Big Top.
But come May, it will be no more.

The machinist climbs his Ferris wheel like a braid
And the fire-eater's lyin' in a pool of sweat, victim of the heat wave
Behind the tent, the hired hand tightens his legs on the sword swallower's blade
Circus town's on the shortwave.

Well, the runway lies ahead like a great false dawn
Fat lady, big mama, Missy Bimbo sits in her chair and yawns
And the man-beast lies in his cage sniffin' popcorn
And the midget licks his fingers and suffers Missy Bimbo's scorn
Circus town's been born.

"gratuitously added"? Say No More!
And a press roll drummer go, ballerina to-and-fro, cartwheelin' up on that tightrope
With a cannon blast, lightnin' flash, movin' fast through the tent, Mars-bent
He's gonna miss his fall, oh, God save the human cannonball
And the flyin' Zambinis watch Margarita do her neck twist
And the ringmaster gets the crowd to count along 95, 96, 97.

A ragged suitcase in his hand, he steals silently away from the circus grounds
And the highway's haunted by the carnival sounds
They dance like a great greasepaint ghost on the wind
A man in baggy pants, a lonely face, a crazy grin
Runnin' home to some small Ohio town
Jesus, send some sweet women to save all your clowns.

And Circus Boy dances like a monkey on barbed wire
And the barker romances with a junkie, she's got a flat tire
And now the elephants dance real funky and the band plays like a jungle fire
Circus town's on the live wire.

And the strong man Samson lifts the midget, little Tiny Tim, up on his shoulders, way up
And carries him on down the midway, past the kids, past the sailors, to his dimly lit trailer
And the Ferris wheel turns and turns like it ain't ever gonna stop
And the circus boss leans over and whispers into the little boy's ear
"Hey, son, you want to try the big top?
All aboard, Nebraska's our next stop."

I'm packed. Let's get rolling.

One of Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ performing elephants enters the arena for its final show in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, U.S., May 1, 2016. (Photo By Andrew Kelly/Reuters)
-bill kenny

Monday, January 16, 2017

Five Years On

I first offered the words which follow five years ago. In light of the rate and pace of change, and not all of it for the better, in the last half decade, I'm more than a little surprised how true this still rings.

If we here in the Land of the Red, White and Blue Round Doorknobs can't make it a three day holiday, we may not observe it at all. Yesterday was the 88th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
James Earl Ray made sure he would never have to blow out all those candles by murdering him almost forty-nine years ago.

The deaths of American icons I hope you read about in history class while in school, JFK, Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy, I was alive for all three and lack the words to tell you what we were like as a nation before each of their passings. I trust you'll believe me when I tell you we are a better nation if not always better people because they lived.

I was a high school sophomore, a pimply too-loud white preppie kid, wandering around our nation's capital, Washington D. C., on a school trip my father organized that ended up right through the middle of Resurrection City, at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, just weeks after Dr. King's assassination.

I was stunned at the scale and scope of the settlement, the audacity and eloquence of the vision that propelled and compelled it into existence and the pervasiveness of the poverty and despair that made it inevitable and necessary. Reinventing American society so that the reasons why it had to be done would become history and aren't a part of our present or future, is a piece of the legacy of Dr. King.

Today across the country there are ceremonies and commemorations. Ours in Norwich at City Hall starts at half past one this afternoon with some speeching, a little preaching (I suspect), as well as singing followed by a march to Evans Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church for warming words on what is usually a typical New England winter's day and then we'll all go home, back to the lives we lead and the people we are.

I hope this year across this country we seize a moment from whatever we do today to celebrate the dream of Dr. King, make it our own and keep it in our hearts. And then, beginning tomorrow for all the tomorrows which remain, use that dream as a fulcrum, as he did, to change the world. Again.
-bill kenny      

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Furious Meets Curious

As we continue our rush to Friday's changing of the guard the newspapers and television news reports I tend to follow have had more than a double dollop of every flavor of economic news imaginable (and some unimaginable). In my case, it's like being the original Studebaker struggling to be in with the In Crowd

Doings on Wall Street, for me, are akin to black holes and gravity. People smarter than I shall ever be are telling me it's important, though the "why" eludes me, so far. I have the same relationship with the Dow Jones Industrial Average as a squirrel or chipmunk on the side of a road has with the passing traffic: I can only imagine what might happen to me if I lose track of where I am in relation to this creation beyond my understanding. Our reach may have finally exceeded our grasp, if I've understood anything of all of this.

Meanwhile brick and mortar businesses and politicians of all persuasions stand on tip-toe as seas of red ink and operating costs rise to their noses (the latter group tend to talk out of an orifice a far piece from their nostrils) and I try to keep my ear tuned to the roar of some metal-tempered engine on some alien distant shore and then head in the other direction.  

The line between tropical typhoon and business tycoon is way more notional than actual if I'm figuring this right. It's all a play of some kind and with all respect to Lin-Manuel Miranda, it's all about the Benjamins, my brother, and devil take the hindmost. The numbers get so large in all of these discussions, your eyes glaze over or should out of self-defense.

My part in all of this? I'm one of those folks who gets by. Puts a little, very little, away out of each pay packet for savings (actually I have it done automatically, because otherwise it'd never get done at all I fear) and who has enough to pay the bills and that's about it.In my house we turn the dollar over at least once before we spend it and that's not a bad thing. I'm not sinking and I'm not qualifying for the Olympic Swim Team- you're probably in that same situation. (Quick tip: don't wear Speedos. That 'banana hammock' is NOT cool; it's creepy.)

When I come home most nights, I have mail from one or more different banks or credit card companies. Everybody wants to be my friend. One bank card offered me the chance or choice (I've forgotten which) to pick my payment date (I see your smile; yeah, I picked the same date you just thought) and another allowed me to set my own interest rate. And all I could wonder is why it's odd usury never shows up in spelling bees anymore.

I didn't ask for any of the mail. I don't need the offers or the cards and I'm smart enough, finally, to realize I don't want them. I could have dropped them off at your house on my way in to work, but I suspect you got them, too. Here's an idea: If we play our cards (credit and otherwise) right, the recycling folks will have quite a haul on collection day, right? "Another guru in the money /Another mantra in the mail."
-bill kenny

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Think Neil Is on to Something

It's been one of those days this week, e.v.e.r.y. d.a.y..
I'm happy to still be here and actually don't care if you are.

I meant that I don't care if you are happy. I do care that you are here, or where do all of these words go, otherwise? Seriously, being here, showing up is half the battle. Then we hang on for dear life.
-bill kenny

Friday, January 13, 2017


Are you experiencing a little trepidation at the thought of leaving the house today, Friday, the 13th? Don't be alarmed. In a study I almost read from some enterprising young Macedonian high school kids, most misfortune occurs within twenty miles of the house.

I'm not clear if that's your house, specifically or anyone in particular's house. In any event, I think you should leave now. And, by the way, I may have made that survey up but as our President-Elect would be quick to point out, that doesn't mean I'm lying (#ThanksDonald).

But no matter how your day is going or how you fear it may go by the time it reaches its end here's a guy whose misfortune, all self-inflicted wounds by the way, really helps explain the appeal of the word schadenfreude.

I'm still not sure exactly what Duane is smiling about unless he was getting busy waiting for what proved to be the deputy's arrival. And why do so many people smile in mug shots? Because those pictures look better on their Instagram accounts? Is it common practice now to ask the person at Central Processing to put aside some wallet-sized snaps for pick-up later? The way I read this, all we lacked were Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster.

Technically, of course, this isn't an example of the mischief and misfortune that can happen on Friday the 13th because Duane more or less stole a week's march. Though, as I read the report it's a pretty logical progression from his previous charge of running a meth lab on a boat. If that idea catches on, I'll bet cruise ship operators won't be able to keep up with the demand.  
-bill kenny

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Between Hipster and Homeless

I'm growing a beard. Again. I do it anywhere from three to five times a year. It starts the same way in that I skip shaving on a work-day (I stopped shaving on weekends eons ago); this one isn't necessarily one of those "I stopped on Monday" kind of beards.

Whenever the mood moves me, wenn ich kein bock mehr hab dann reichts, I stop shaving. I think I've mentioned before in this space I regard shaving like mowing the lawn. No matter how wonderfully it's accomplished, you have to do it again. And in my case, neither effort is especially exquisitely executed in the first place.

I stumble along unshaven for a couple of days in that Yasser Arafat not quite a beard but no longer stubble look (how did he keep it looking like that? And why?) and then I start to shave the area around my upper cheeks, carving out a whisper if not rumor of a shape, and also shaving my neck upwards towards my chin and cheeks.

I'm the most surprised person on earth (or in my skin) when the beard comes in each time with more gray hairs than the last time. I'm not quite sure why I'm sort of disappointed. What little hair I have on my head is gray, and I'm old. Should I forget either of those points, all I need do is look in the mirror on work-day mornings and confront the ugly truth.

I recently bought revitalizing 'beard oil' from The Cremo Company Mens' Beard Line. You thought I had made that up, didn't you? You should be ashamed after all we've been through (this is where I'm allowed to say 'not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin' and mean it). I hadn't realized hirsute was a growth industry until I saw the stuff on the shelf, at a price per ounce approaching something else I long ago used to purchase with the same unit of measurement.

I cannot and should not expect miracles. I know what the stuff has to work with and in light of the lowered expectations (sounds like the title of a Lifetime Channel movie, doesn't it?) I now have based on the reality we share, I guess I am pleased.

Perhaps my hearing is going as I've aged because I no longer seem to hear quite so many murmurings as I pass people in the grocery aisle about 'that poor fellow, having to sleep under a rail trestle in this cold weather.' Which is for the best, because almost all the really good street corners are taken.
-bill kenny  

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Flawed Work of Art

I don't know about you but I am very relieved after having my belief I lived in a part of the country with four seasons shaken, that the winter and snow finally arrived over the weekend. I had fretted since around Thanksgiving that, despite threatening skies and unfriendly temperatures, maybe our snow was broken, but I am feeling much better about all of that now.

I also no longer look quite so foolish standing on my Flexible Flyer sled in our side yard waiting and hoping for a flake. Most days, I was what I was waiting for and I think people were beginning to talk. (Mostly about the cape I wear to complement my Superman underoos.)

I prefer flip-flops to mukluks having worn the latter for a large part of the year I was stationed at Sondrestrom Air Base, Greenland in 1976 (talk about putting the cold in the Cold War; mission accomplished) and while we don't see the amounts of snow here I did there, in my case it's more the idea of snowfall I'm less than a fan of rather than the actual white stuff.

I'd be the first to admit snow not only covers a lot of blemishes (insert the name of your least favorite derelict property here), it provides us with a literal blank canvas upon which we can create our own neighborhood, downtown or city. Seeing in the arctic expanses whatever it is we wish to see  (My wife, Sigrid, assures me when I'm snow-covered that I'm more handsome than when we married.)

Our daughter, Michelle, and I made relatively short work of the snow that more than blanketed us on Sunday helped in no small part by her Saturday afternoon sojourn outside in the midst of the swirling flakes on the first shift of snow removal.

For my part, I was enjoying a short video clip created after the dusting we had last very early Friday by Foundry 66, an activity of the Norwich Community Development Corporation in what many of us will continue to call the "old Bulletin building" for the next twenty years, actually 66 Franklin Street, hence (sort of) the name.

The video will confirm your belief that we live in a lovely city and I think Foundry 66 might be a resource for each of us in our own way to make where we live even better and to share our vision of that better place with one another.

Foundry 66 see their mission as bringing together entrepreneurs and small business folks in a shared business environment and activity center. In this case, when you hear hooves, do think of zebras instead of horses in terms of size and scale of operation.

They define themselves as a platform for projects and a meeting space for groups of independent individuals who share collective values while creating a certain synergy that can come from working alongside, rather than in competition with, one another.  In other words, think of what they do rather than who they are.

I watched the video many times (it's way less than a minute and you know it's magic because it seems to get shorter every time you watch it) while reading Mayor Hinchey's State of the City address from last Tuesday's City Council meeting.

I know you read about it in last Wednesday's newspaper, but her remarks, in their entirety are worth the few minutes of your time. It's a very thorough report by our departments and agencies on where we've been but if you read nothing else, and shame on you, then make her last paragraph where she highlights the climate of cooperation and I think you. too, will agree under the snow is a city worth living in and fighting for, waiting for you.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

William and Otherwise

To take the chill off yesterday afternoon, with the falling snow we had around here and the dip in temperatures,  after the fitness center after work, I made a quick stop into the sandwich place that used to have the guy who lost all the weight eating their sandwiches as their spokesman. Yeah, that guy.

Anyway, I had a bowl of 'homemade vegetable soup' (to warm me up from the inside) with my sandwich, which I call 'samwich' inspired by a half-memory of Soupy Sales, I think. I do wish the ghosts of past lives would wear name tags when they wander the corridors of my memory so I'd know how to sort them.

It was really, really, good soup-and I asked the fellow who is always there (I think he's the franchise owner), how he knew. He was puzzled by my question and offered his own, 'how did I know what?' "How did you know this was what my homemade vegetable soup was supposed to taste like?" I asked. Maybe he thought I was joking but I didn't think I was.

Point in fact, my homemade vegetable soup would taste different from yours. It would have to, right? Unless we're twin sons of different mothers. And what about the people who are adopted or who were raised by relatives other than their own parents. How about those raised by wolves, looking at cabinet nominees (nope, no quarter given here, bigly). What does their homemade vegetable soup taste like?

We bandy words around sometimes like there's a common meaning everyone knows when there isn't. Sometimes shared references really aren't. No matter our physical appearances, when it comes to words, we are often a lot like Humpty Dumpty (I'm always funny side up, personality-wise).

Even though we may use the same words, they can and often do, have very different meanings to and for each of us. If a cat had kittens in an oven, you wouldn't call them biscuits, right? That saying makes me happier than a wooden spoon at a spelling bee. I must thank Dave Malone for the former expression and Scott Adams for the latter.

Language should create a frame of common reference and enlarge the body of shared knowledge to enhance understanding and further communication, not mask meaning and disguise intentions. Nothing is less clear than synthetic agreement or more harmful than coerced consensus.

Honesty is something we claim to always want but rarely welcome and is always in short supply especially on a chilly day here in New England in January. Perhaps we should go to your house and have some alphabet soup.
-bill kenny

Monday, January 9, 2017

Laces Facing the Goal Post

I fell across a Facebook entry that made reference to a verse from Exodus which sparked comments from a large number of folks who found the time to write, somewhat animatedly, on his wall. I like the verse and feel the timing of the posting and what I choose to believe is its meaning enough to have shared the link. 

It really got me thinking, or as close as I ever get on most days, about the majesty and glory of The Divine (when you get up here in years, you discover a fondness for hymns you didn't have in your Twenties (at least I didn't). Ask Mick Jagger.) and how we invoke His/Her name (or that of a family member) for all manner and missions and see Him/Her move in various mysterious ways His/Her wonders to perform.

We have waged war on one another in some shape, size and form for millennia but always first seek out God's blessing of our arms against those of our enemy, oblivious to the inevitability that those on the other side are pursuing the same course in the hopes of the same desired outcome. I'm not sure how we and thee think all of that is supposed to work out. Et nos mutuo destruunt.

And even now, in these enlightened times, where sports have replaced wars (but the metaphors remain) we've still sought to curry His/Her favor. Whether it's the basketball player with the Sign of the Cross before EVERY foul shot through to the Major League Baseball pitcher who nails that third strike and kisses a cross on his necklace while pointing a finger skyward in Thanksgiving. And football players taking a knee.....well. I've wondered how Matthew of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (not the injury attorneys; the 'bless the bed that I sleep on' New Testament authors) would react. 

I was toying with that thought in light of yet another football-filled weekend just passed. Do you (or can you) remember when Sundays used to be church-time? Now the priests are battling for our pre-game attention with the TV networks who paid billions for the right to air professional and its unpaid variant, NCAA, football. There are Saturday evening services but also Monday night games so I'm thinking it all cancels itself out. 

Of course, if the church elders (regardless of affiliation) had any marketing savvy at all, they'd schedule services in the off-peak game time hours and work on more cross-promotional activities with the Lords of the NFL like ten decades of the Rosary as a penance for a crack-back block or perhaps, only on game days (of course), renaming houses of worship into something more fan-friendly like Our Lady of the Immaculate Interception. 

A nation of conspicuous consumers, sufficiently sanctimonious, with Houses of the Holy filled to beyond capacity like the football stadia just down the road, all erupting into thunderous and rapturous applause and hosannas while salvation approaches as we exchange sudden death for eternal life. 
-bill kenny

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Don't You Squeal

It's hard to believe today marks the START of the second of the fifty-two weeks that comprise this shiny and shining New Year we welcomed perhaps raucously (and perhaps too raucously) last Saturday night. I blinked, I guess, and missed most if not all of the first one. 

The premise of the promise behind all the excitement at the time was that we would be and do that which we had not yet or ever done before, or be better at it, or truer to ourselves because of it. And yet here we are, surprised that a week's race has already been run and we're still lacing up our shoes (or in my case, continuing to look for them).

I've been assured that life is a marathon and that it's also a sprint. Not sure which is true if not both but am reasonably certain life is not a sitting still and allowing the events to wash over us like endless waves on a distant shore. I think there is more than something to be said for taking up arms against a sea of troubles and by thus opposing, end them. 

How will anyone else know we were ever here if we behave as if we should apologize for our very existence throughout every day of it? Life is not something to be muddled through. It is a shout, a cry sometimes of anguish and sometimes of exultation, but always loud and always true.

I know that I don't know much (and have almost sixty-five years of the proof of that), but I know this: Life is NOT a search for a reason to be here. It is the reason. Start acting like it. 
-bill kenny

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Lone Earpiece on the Grassy Knoll

As if an enormous number of the events that went on in the latter portions of the previous year had not already set my spidey-senses tingling, I'm apprehensive that much of our technology has become sentient (Lord knows fewer and fewer of us are and nature abhors a vacuum (and isn't too fond of a dust-buster either come to think of it)) and having seen what we are capable of, and more on point, what we seem to be so good at doing to one another, may have decided to take charge.

Don't blink in disbelief, hear me out; actually, it's very important that we think about our auditory senses when looking at the menace and mayhem our machine may be readying for us. I don't mean to sound like the Can You Hear Me Now guy channeling Paul Revere, though they do have the same first names. Coincidence? I think not. What?

My point exactly. Hear me out. Seriously.

Last February we had a lounge version of what went became an unpresidented, record-breaking, yuuge success (bigly), the Donald Trump Mainstream Media Soft-Shoe Shuck and Jive Show. And then, just last week we had a diva disaster.

And the angels asked Lee Harvey Earpiece, "do you hear what I hear?"
You're impatient, I know. "I can't see your point!" you say; here let me take off my hat. Better?
Consider this: Both of the folks in the preceding paragraph, despite appearances or what you may believe to be true, are victims. Yeppers, they sure are and not just because they both say so, repeatedly and profusely though it certainly doesn't hurt. Check this out. And don't forget this.

Do not say, or think, 'that's unheard of!' Do not even go there, pilgrim. Victim-shaming! We're better than that, or we should be. Somewhere in kick starter campaign not yet posted will be a one-size fits all (because the alibis sure do) crew-neck OR V-neck tee with I'm a Victim, Too emblazoned across the front. Specifically and specially designed to make your ears look small like....well, nevermind.
-bill kenny